Bruckner Chase and paddleboard athlete Dawn Robinson after a competition.
In 2012 when Becky McGill, PT, approached her brother in-law Bruckner Chase and his wife Michelle about creating a program to get people living with spinal cord disease and injuries more comfortable with being in the open water, they were happy to oblige.
“So much of the culture and community in this area is based around water. The beach, the bay,” said Chase. “When these people lose the ability to participate in events that bring people together, they start to feel isolated.”
Through a partnership with Bacharach and the Ocean City Swim Club, Chase and Michelle created Blue Journey Unified, a program that helps those affected by spinal cord injury and disease get back into the open water. The program, during which EMT, lifeguards, and trained physical therapists, assist those in wheelchairs, is year –round. During the winter months, SCI patients receive swimming and prone paddleboard training in a swimming pool, and during the summer season they get prone paddleboard training in the open water.
Chase said Blue Journey Unified, which has now expanded to parts of Australia, is a great way to unify people in the community and let them see each other.
“The program has an eye –opening impact,” he said. “It really shows the capacity of those working with a disability.”
Blue Journey Unified at the Ability Fair
He will also be attending Bacharach’s 5th annual Ability Fair July 24th at Stockton University.
“The Ability Fair gives us the opportunity to share what we do with a larger audience, that we do not currently reach,” Chase explained.
Aside from his work with Blue Journey Unified, Bruckner Chase is teaming up with NOAA National Weather Service on the safety series “Wave Safe”, which educates people on why they need to be respectful of what goes on in and around our oceans. According to Chase the top three takeaways of the series are to respecting the ocean, situational awareness, and how to prevent second victim drowning.
When asked why he is so involved with programs that help others get acclimated to the open water and ocean preservation and safety, the former endurance athlete had a simple answer.
“What we do in the ocean makes us athletes. What we do for the ocean gives us purpose.”